tv Anderson Cooper 360 CNN September 9, 2013 10:00pm-11:01pm PDT
important speech of his presidency on syria at 9:00 p.m. eastern. i will be here with immediate reaction. that's all for us here tonight. "ac360 later" a new show, premiers right now. good evening, a new sign that a vote on using force against syria would be the vote that the president would lose, when a seemingly unhand remark by secretary of state john kerry changed the idea of use of force. also, george zimmerman's wife says he was threatening her with a gun. also later tonight, why some marathon swimmers are raising questions about diana nyad's epic swim, we'll tell you about that. we begin with breaking news, senate majority leader harry reid, postponing what would have been the key vote on authorizing use of force against syria, it began with off hand remarks by secretary of state john kerry
when earlier today he was asked what bashar al-assad of syria could do to prevent an air strike. >> he could turn over every bit of his chemical weapons to the international community, in the next week, turn it over, all of it. without delay, and allow a full and total accounting for that. but he is not about to do it. and it can't be done, obviously. >> with that last sentence, secretary kerry apparently dismissed the entire notion. but then russia's foreign minister picked up on it, and syria's foreign minister picked up on it, as well. ban ki-moon also ran with it. and on the crisis, former secretary of state hillary clinton threw her idea behind it, as well. >> if the regime immediately surrendered its stockpiles to international control as was suggested by secretary kerry,
and the russians, that would be an important step. but this cannot be another excuse for delay or obstruction. and russia has to support the international community's efforts sincerely or be held to account. >> what is interesting about that, in because, she had just met with president obama, and then there was that momentum building on that, and secretary kerry said an alternative to that is possible. >> it is possible if it is real. you know, i think it is certainly a positive development when the russians and the syrians both make gestures towards dealing with these chemical weapons. this is what we have been asking for, not just over the last week or the last month, but for the last couple of years. so it is a potentially positive development. i have to say that it is
unlikely that we would have arrived at that point where there were even public statements like that without a credible military threat to deal with the chemical weapons use inside of syria, but we're going to run this to ground. and john kerry and the rest of my national security team will engage with the russians and the international community to see if we can arrive at something that is enforceable. and serious, we may be able to arrive at a consensus in which it doesn't solve the underlying problems of a civil war in syria but it does solve the problem that i'm trying to focus on right now which is making sure you don't have over 400 children gassed by these chemical weapons. >> all right, so the president sounding like he is giving serious thought on what could be an unpopular and difficult course of action. and just like that, it sounded like a march to war, found the pause button. there is more public polling tonight. we'll start with the breaking
news and chief correspondent dana bash, so the delay on this vote, is this because of russia's talk and what secretary kerry said? >> it is, a senior democratic leadership source said that is exactly the reason why senator reid decided to delay this. they insist they do have the votes for this initial procedural measure to pass this week. but they said they don't want to lock the senate in. and in fact, this is the message they got from senators, don't lock us in from taking this vote if we don't need to. we heard from a u.s. official, this is far from solid, and needs to be as assessed on the merits and could be a delay tactic from the russians and syrians. and anderson, that is very much what i'm hearing from members of congress. there were so many briefings and meetings, pretty much all day long. so they have been asking questions of russia, as well. so there is a lot of concern this is not real.
in fact, this is just a delay tactic possibly. susan rice says she has been at the table with the russians for a couple of years and talked about issues like this. and at the end of the day, the russians just pull it off the table. cautious optimism, but cautious. >> sounds kind of raucous behind you. in terms of the vote, the president acknowledged tonight it is uphill for him to get the votes he needs. >> well, the reason it is raucous, they're breaking down from a very long classified briefing behind me with secretary kerry and secretary hagel. and the entire house of representatives. they were all invited to this briefing. and to answer your question, in terms of so many meetings coming out, it didn't seem to change their minds, they were not positive towards voting towards this. if the vote were held today, i talked to many who don't think it would be passed.
in fact, talking to lawmakers, we've seen more coming out against voting for military authorization than saying they would vote yes in the past hours, it was an uphill climb. all right, dana, thank you very much. more on the situation, senior political analyst, david gergen, and former george w. bush white house press secretary, john, let's start with you, you have been following this debate for a couple of years. what do you make of this debate? are the members taking this russian initiative, or are the russians jumping on this, are they taking it seriously or does it seem they're just anxious not to vote and putting their faith in putin and assad? >> it is a bit of all of the above. are they taking it seriously? they are skeptical, but the syrian foreign minister came out and said we're open to this
idea. but the spokesperson said you have to test it, you can't push for a vote on military operation or launching military strikes if there is a narrow possibility that diplomacy well work. but they are skeptical. the point about do they not want to take this vote? absolutely, a great number of people in both parties, but especially, a lot of democrats who would feel pressure to be loyal to the president in the end if this -- if they had to take the vote. to be loyal. they don't want to vote yes. >> do we know the back story on what secretary kerry said. at first it was described as an offhand remark, a goof, as if he were answering a hypothetical and kind of got ahead of himself. but the president said he actually discussed this with the president at the g-20 last week. >> this is the day, and secretary kerry knows this, that the president is giving six
interviews with television anchors. tomorrow he is addressing the people of america, why is he do that? to address the skepticism, about could you have a limited attack. could you do it in a way that hurts assad but doesn't lead to boots on the ground. in this way, secretary kerry says it in an offhand way, they were mocking him. saying it was a goof, a mess-up. hours later, you have the russians saying let's explore this deal, the russians saying you have to give it time. you are right. i have covered a lot of this. i've never seen anything like this. >> and david gergen, you have worked in a lot of situations in the white house. what do you make of this, that has been going on by the administration? >> it is pretty awful. pretty awful. >> meaning mismanaged? mishandled? >> yes, i don't think -- i talked to a young military
officer tonight who was a former student. and he said one things we look for in the leadership, for the military is clarity, consistency. that has been lacking, we don't know what the administration is trying to do. it has been zig-zagging, and there is a lack of clear message and consistency. and i think there is surprise in many quarters at how willing the administration is to delay things over this offer from russia and syria, here we have an offer from two of the most unsavory leaders in the world. two countries that have no love for the united states. putting an offer on the table. when we saw from the persian gulf in 1991, we saw an invasion team looking for chemical weapons from saddam. everybody was going to get those weapons and try to destroy them. it took years to try to trace those things, and even then we
didn't know. one of the reasons george bush went to war is because we didn't know. i am surprised there is not a clear, let's be very, very skeptical before we embrace a plan that comes from assad and putin. >> you think the administration is just pulling the vote from congress, not even voting on it while it is in the air? >> i think the vote with it will be pulled. >> i don't know why the president is going to address the nation. there is no time sensitivity. it is like somebody is pushing a boulder up the hill. now he stopped pushing the boulder. the only thing that will happen is his original position will get crushed. this is what happens when the president of the united states says something he doesn't believe in the first place. i don't think the president meant it when he talked about drawing the red line, he was bluffing. he got his bluff called. ever since then, this is an
adhoc, we're going to go to congress. now we're going to put our faith in putin and assad, do the right thing? look, president assad denies he even used chemical weapons, now we're going to trust him to give over the weapons to putin, weapons he denies he even used. i don't even know what his policy is. >> charles, what do you make of this? should there are a vote on this? >> if you watched the president's interview with wolf blitzer, the tone was completely different and dialled back. >> and the fact that former secretary clinton came out and said this right after meeting with obama, that sort of indicates it. >> absolutely, and when asked about this particular situation he actually tried to say that he had brought it up before at the g-20. so i think he is trying to pull back, he sees the poll numbers moving in the opposite direction of where they need them to move,
even after a full frontal assault on the public and on congress. he sees the numbers whipping by. the news organizations and probably the internal people and those numbers are not moving in the right direction. i think that you do have to try to find it out here. i don't believe, however, that you can trust putin and assad. i don't trust those guys as far as i can throw them. we've seen putin try to poke at the president before, even with snowden, i don't think there is any affinity. you have to be skeptical if he is serious, and then the practical matter of how do you flood syria with you know, weapons inspectors. they have something like 70 different sites where they have these. in the middle of a civil war. how does this happen in the middle of a civil war? it is really hard to see as a practical matter how it can be done. however, i think the president is recognizing political realities here. he may be about to lose a vote that he doesn't want to lose. and they're pulling back a
little bit at least to get some time to see if they can make a better case. >> john, i know you want to get in. >> well, at least the challenge for the president, addressing the skepticism. and it is hard to get the president, through his reluctance, his own reservations about doing this. we thought that is what today and tomorrow were about. now, to charles's point, the president has a challenge, how long do you leave this out there? how long do the russians and syrians get to come up with a credible plan? because not only does it affect your appearance on the world stage, but i talked to a house leadership aide who said look, the president was probably going to lose in the house anyway, if he lets it drag on for months, forget about it. >> today if the president doing all the interviews with all the different networks, and speaking with the american public tomorrow night if he was going to do that, was all about making the case for an attack about why
you have to draw a red line over chemical weapons. that message seems to have gone, as john said, in a lot of these interviews. it was all about the russian plans. >> i agree, it puts an extra burden on the president tomorrow night. if you want to bring people to engage in conflict, you have to issue a clarion call, you have to rally people with a sense of what you're trying to do. why it is so important. and here is have a huge complicating factor, why it is important, and the president is going to seem ambivalent about what he wants to do. but i think the real question at the end is what is best for the country? you know, what serves the united states best over the long haul. and i think that is a hard one to answer. if we pull back now, maybe it is the right thing. but are we not getting hurt strategically, a lot of countries will look at us and
say you know, those guys don't quite know what they're doing there. >> all right, we have to go to break, let's talk about it on twitter during the commercial break @andersoncooper. and up next, evidence that some believe is lacking, seems like these were caused by the assad regime using chemical weapons. how much do we really know. >> later, how george zimmerman ended up being talked to by police again today. and what his lawyer has to say about his wife dialing 911 saying he was there with a gun. she felt threatened. we'll have details from our reporter and also talk zimmerman's attorney, mark o'mara, ahead. peace of mind is important when you're running a successful business.
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consideration, this morning, they spoke to cnn's charlie rose about the consequences of syrian action. >> will there be attacks in the middle east if there is an air strike? >> should expect everything, should expect everything. not only through the government, the government is not the only player in the region, you have different parties and factions and ideology. you have different decisions. so you have to expect that. >> tell me what you mean by expect everything. >> expect every action. >> including chemical warfare? >> that depends, if the rebels or the terrorists in this region or any other group have it. it could happen, i don't know. i am not a fortune teller to tell you what is going to happen.
you heard others say there are doubts, some of the images in his report, they are hard to stomach. >> reporter: three days before this horrific attack on a damascus suburb, syrian regime forces were seen preparing chemical weapons. later, as the moment of attack approached, troops received warnings to have their gas masks at the ready. then after the gas took its deadly toll, a senior regime official is heard confirming chemical weapons were used. even expressing fear that u.n. inspectors would come looking for evidence. all of this according to u.s. intelligence, the core of the evidence, the obama administration says it has to prove bashar al-assad ordered the attack. >> the american intelligence community has high confidence, high confidence. this is common sense.
this is evidence. these are facts. >> but so far, the public has seen none of the supporting evidence. the white house released this map showing areas around damascus affected by the chemical attack but offered none of the satellite images they say they have showing the attacks were launched from regime-controlled areas. and u.s. intelligence agencies also have yet to release transcripts of the senior regime official talking about the attack after the fact. in all, nothing yet to directly link assad to ordering the use of chemical weapons. the evidence shared with the public is largely circumstantial. >> assad, we believe, and we have the intelligence and evidence to back this up, is in control of the chemical weapons program. and would have -- let me put it this way. any standing orders to use these weapons would have been issued
by assad. >> reporter: americans may need to hear and see more. new cnn orc poll shows 59% of the americans oppose military action. 63% disapprove of how president obama has handled the syrian crisis. and as they wait, new questions have been raised over whether assad personally ordered the attack. a report in a german newspaper cited phone intercepts by german intelligence, suggesting assad may not have authorized the use of chemical weapons. some question why with the upper hand in the conflict he would risk provoking international military intervention. however, with rebels closing in on the capital he may have believed it was worth the risk. as the administration tries to sway the country, it released 13 new videos to members of congress who were being given full access to classified information and to the public. >> my sense is that when members
of congress have a chance to see the intelligence, to read it, to get the briefings to ask questions they come away convinced of two things. chemical weapons were used on august 21st against civilians in syria, and assad is the one that used them. >> reporter: for some, however, they still have not heard enough. >> they have not linked it directly to assad, in my opinion. >> you have seen enough skepticism regarding the war. more on the middle east policy, also christopher dickie, and former white house homeland security adviser, fran town send who currently sits on the board. many believe there were chemical weapons used, but still do not support the attack. do you think if intelligence were released it would make a difference? >> look, there is a good reason
that sort of technical intelligence like satellite imagery and signal intelligence has kept classified and shown to members of congress. i'm not sure this is about releasing more intelligence, what it is about is the president making the case. what does he want to do? why does he want to do it? how is this in the national interest, and what he does, will that advance the cause? how will we know when we're successful? i don't think sort of -- the case has been made that pulls all this together. you know, we hear there is a red line. and then the president backs away. it is congress' red line or the international communities. we hear he authorizes military action but he wants to get permission from congress. you know, there is this back and forth, and the case has not been advocated forcefully put together by the commander-in-chief about what he wants to do. >> you know what is interesting, we hear not only from assad but all the time, people on twitter, saying look at what happened in iraq, the intelligence there. and colin powell constantly making the case about the
satellite photographs and that turned out to be wrong. so there is a lot of distrust from the population, even if they release that information. >> well, i tend to agree with fran, this is a question of messaging more than it is the problem with intelligence, i think the vast majority of americans do believe that assad gassed his own people. i personally find the circumstantial case, quite apart from the intelligence case, to be overwhelming. the assad forces have been trying to take that neighborhood for a year. they found it impossible. the regular forces, there are large boulevards with high rises from which the fsa has been able to pick off the tanks from the regime. so it just makes perfect sense they would do it. it is a gateway to damascus, close to the air field from which the iranians supply, the battle for damascus centers in that neighborhood and assad has not been able to win it. >> do you think this is a real
issue? >> i think it is a distraction. all of this talk about did bashar al-assad order it directly or not? come on, he is the president of the country. and you can tell from the charlie rose interview this is a guy who doesn't want to take responsibility for anything. are you going to respond? well, who knows, i can't predict the future. this is a die who is duplicitous, he is steep ed in that implication. it is just bull. >> he labels everybody opposed to his regime a terrorist. >> everybody who is opposed, is a terrorist. but what he was telling charlie rose in the clip we saw, is terrorists will strike back at you on my behalf. >> that is right, and let's remember that hezbollah is really a client of not only irans, but syria. so there is a fairly explicit threat on his part, that if
hezbollah winds up with these chemical weapons, you can expect attacks on western targets. >> and we want to point to the video on the attack, let's play it. >> aside from the area the rebels control, that reminds me about what kerry said about the big lie that colin powell said in front of the world about iran, before going to war, when he said this is our evidence. actually, he gave false evidence. in this case, kerry didn't even present any evidence. he talk, we have evidence and he didn't present anything. >> you're shaking your head. >> well, look, it is like any criminal -- or you know what it is like? it is like talking about cigarettes and lung cancer. where is the direct linkage about cigarettes and lung cancer?
well, obviously it happened. obviously cigarettes were linked to lung cancer, but people said the specific links couldn't be established. he is playing the same game here, obviously, he is the one with an arsenal of chemical weapons, obviously, that is very well known. and somebody, him, his people used chemical weapons to kill 1400 people. >> and he doesn't address, look, the area these came from came with rockets that we know that the rebels don't have access to this sort of delivery systems that were used to launch the chemical weapons, because if they had, anderson, they would have toppled the regime by now. so it is sort of ridiculous, he obviously doesn't address the evidence the administration released, the rate of fire after the chemical attacks was four times greater than any other period into the rebel areas, clearly an attempt to destroy evidence. otherwise, why would there be this increase in attacks into the rebel-held areas, post the chemical weapons use. >> mike, what do you make of this?
not only what secretary kerry said about giving up the chemical weapons, even though the assad regime doesn't admit they have any. do you think it is just a delay tactic? >> i think it is a ruse, unfortunately, president obama is in a box. and putin has offered him a way out. and he has grabbed ahold of it. and it is very bad news. because assad is now back in his comfort zone, which is playing arsonist and fireman, he causes a problem and says listen, i'm the guy who can help you solve it. we've played this game with him for years and years and years. and the terrible thing, he is now a partner with president obama. if president obama goes back and says that assad is cheat with respect to giving up his chemical weapons, well then it raises the question, what is the united states going to do? and we know that president obama couldn't do anything because he came up against this no vote. president obama is going to have to go along with this game
because his reputation is now invested in this sham process. >> anderson, it really is a sham. let's remember the russians offered to take the enriched uranium out of iran, and that turned out to be a sham and a delay tactic, as well. and we have no reason to think this is anything other than that. >> all right, for more on the story, go to cnn.com. all right coming up, police respond to a call from george zimmerman's estranged wife, she says he attacked her father today and pointed a gun. also ahead, at 64 years old last week, diana nyad made a headlines, as being the first person to swim from florida, without protection, she made the swim. tonight there are questions being raised by marathon swimmers, why some are skeptical when we continue.
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>> he punched my dad in the nose, my dad has a mark on his face. i saw his glasses, they were there on the phone. he had accosted my father and took my ipad out of my hands and smashed it and cut is with a pocket knife. >> victor black well joins me with the very latest, so what exactly happened today? >> well, anderson, police tell us this alleged altercation ended with officers' guns drawn, and george zimmerman's arms raised, face down behind his home here. he once lived there with his estranged wife, shelly zimmerman. how it all started depends on who you asked. we spoke with his attorney who said shelly recently moved out and went to pick up her belongings. in the 911, it states that george zimmerman just showed up. and mark o'mara said there are cameras inside and outside of the home. he says that george zimmerman
smashed an ipad but says george never hit anyone. now, police say there was an altercation between george zimmerman and shelly's father, david dean, who spoke with paramedics but was not treated at the scene. now, let's talk about this gun, it is an interesting element here, police say they did not find a gun on the scene. george zimmerman told them he didn't have a gun and also there was no gun on his person. but if you listen to the 911 call, shelly zimmerman says he has his hand on the gun. police didn't check the car, they say it was not part of the crime scene and they admit there was possibly a gun in the car, anderson? >> so neither george zimmerman's wife or her father, though, are actually pressing charges, correct? >> well, in part, the two men, dean and zimmerman, george zimmerman have decided mutually they will not press charges against one another. but police say they're reviewing
the surveillance video from inside and outside the home. and if they see any striking between george zimmerman and shelly zimmerman there could be a domestic battery charge against george or shelly. it depends again on what they see in the video. so it is not up to her, shelly zimmerman or george zimmerman to file a domestic battery charge, it is up to the police. >> okay, and do we know where george zimmerman is now? he is not in police custody, he was not actually arrested, correct? >> he was not arrested. he was held in what is called investigative custody just while they questioned him. and police say presumably, he is in the home right now. he went in, they questioned him. nobody is inside the home, they believe he is still there. >> and cnn analyst, good to have you on the show. to your knowledge, what happened today? i know you say this incident was a disagreement with heightened emotions. but was there an assault of the father?
>> well, what happened is what happens in a lot of divorce cases. i do a number of divorce cases. and in those type of cases, there are much more heightened emotions than most criminal cases. in a case like this, there was a plan in place, shelly would go back to the house on saturday. she had moved out before. she was going to go back to get items at the house. that was not accomplished. she didn't get everything she wanted. she showed up at the house, george was not aware of it. so when he showed up and saw a trailer and truck it was concerning to him. there were conversations between george and her dad. you can see on the video that he was outside. george was just sitting on the bed of the truck waiting for them to finish. when they finished, he went to lock the front door and back door. and shelly tried to get in the front door, not knowing why it was locked. and i think that is why it sort of started. i will tell you whatever yelling or touching happened between
shelly's dad is not on tape. unfortunately, we wish it was. but we do know that a friend of george's, wes, was there and was able to keep it at a minimum, there may have been touching between wes and the father. these people have been living 16 months under the spotlight. and they're suffering from it. i think the divorce itself is a fallout from the whole case and it is now showing up with people acting inappropriately on all sides. >> but did zimmerman have a gun in the car? >> he had a gun with him, yes, and he was allowed to absolutely. i know there were reports that said he did not have a gun with him. but he did. >> so when she says in the 911 call that he is sitting in the car with his gun, she was right? >> well, only because she knows he always carries his gun. she never said it was shown,
nobody ever said it was shown. >> again, remember now that things have calmed down everyone says they want to do nothing more than just go and get divorced? >> are you concerned about george zimmerman, your client. because i don't know a lot of people who get pulled over by police as often as he seems to. i mean, prior to the trial he had run-ins with the police. there is obviously the trayvon martin shooting. he has been pulled over twice for speeding, i've seen videos of. and now this incident.
i think it may show up. i think george niece understand he is under scrutiny. speeding tickets are not a good thing. >> given that he is under stress like that, does it concern you that he is armed? >> well, he acted appropriately, he never took the weapon out. and the only thing he really did was tell the police on the outside of his shirt he made sure the gun was not moving anywhere. and didn't do anything. mr. dean was sort of coming at him. that can be seen in the video. >> so he had the gun on his person, not in the glove box of his car. >> that is correct. >> okay, and that doesn't concern you? >> it doesn't in that he acted appropriately, certainly in a divorce situation everybody needs to be careful how they act, particularly with a high stress situation. even with the unfortunate incidents of this case, he acted appropriately, and i think the
tape will show that. >> all right, the police are still looking at the video of this situation. mark o'mara, thank you. and diana nyad's swim from cuba, impressing so many. the question is, did she get help along the way? there are a lot of questions on social media? also the case on the man saying he killed a man driving drunk. ahead. i'm beth... and i'm michelle. and we own the paper cottage. it's a stationery and gifts store. anything we purchase for the paper cottage goes on our ink card. so you can manage your business expenses and access them online
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>> reporter: diana nyad walked out on the beach in key west, she thought it was over. her fifth attempt, she finally made it. swimming from cuba to key west, 10 miles, no shark gauge, no flippers, 53 hours, it had never been done before. >> i'll get awards, i'll be gracious about it. so people's reactions mean everything. so i am sure the swim will be ratified in due time. and that is fine. just don't care about it. >> well, not so fast. apparently others in the marathon swimming community do. there is a rising tide of questions, did she hold onto the boat at any time? did she get out of the water? could her speed at one time nearly doubled? the social media is filled with quotes, is this attempt at an epic swim going to be a record? i thought it had to be verified, which this is most certainly
not. the co-founder of the forum, is one of those who wants answers, he is questioning whether independent observers on the boat were truly independent or friends of nyads. and there was another red flag, he said. >> what her crew reported to be a seven and a half hour stretch of a swim on the second night, whether she neither consumed any calories or liquids, and went without eating and drinking. and i think most marathon swimmers look at that and think it is impossible. >> that stretch was at least 36 hours into her swim. the time an endurance swimmer needs to refuel the most. the issue seems to be just how fast she was swimming. at one point her swim nearly doubled, leading to questions on whether or not she got an assist from a boat. marlon scott, who captained the
boat, said he has no doubts that her swim was legitimate. >> i never saw diana nyad come out of the water, every time i woke up she was swimming. every time i went back and laid down for a while she was swimming. she was in the water the whole time, i believe it 100%. >> reporter: one expert who analyzes and forecasts the currents said. >> she had been over here. >> reporter: he says the conditions had been as if all the stars aligned. >> the current was perfectly favorable. couldn't have been a more ideal situation, where the current was going from havana to key west, almost directly, she could have ridden the currents and gained more than three to five miles an hour in the currents. so yes, i think she did it. >> members of nyad's team says it was learning from the past, preparation and of course, luck. >> john zarelli joins me, so what about the seven and a half gap where she supposedly went without food or drink?
is nyad and her camp explaining that? >> yeah, her team said look, that was a period she was feeling very cold. all she wanted to do was stay warm to get rid of the chills. now all of this, anderson would be a moot point, if there was a continuous 53-hour recording of her swim. but her team says most of it was documented in stills and video. but those were people, part of the nyad team, there were not any independent people who documented the entire 53 hours. >> all right, john zarella, thank you. and turning himself in after making a stunning on-line confession.
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driving drunk. and dealing with kim jong-un, dennis rodman said during his recent visit they also talked about writing a book together. and unveiling a lost long painting a landscape from the sunflower period. it is believed he painted it in 1888, two years before his suicide. it sat in an attic for years. >> thank you, we'll be right back. vo: two years of grad school.
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